See every brushstroke on a high-res tour of French masterpieces.
Paris is an ocean away, but that doesn't have to stop you from touring a Louvre's worth of digital artworks for free. Paris Musées, a public organization that oversees 14 municipal museums in Paris, has released 100,000 digital reproductions of art held in their museums to the public domain. Now they're available for you to peruse—for free!
“Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet (1880), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Petit Palais, Paris
Digital visitors can view the work of famous artists like Rembrandt, Gustave Courbet, Anthony van Dyck, and Eugène Delacroix. The images are super-high-resolution—you can examine brush strokes and cracked paint like you took a magnifying glass to a museum, all without having to book a trip to the Petit Palais or the Catacombs.
Check it out for yourself here.
“Presentation in the Temple” by Jacques Daret (1434-1435), oil on wood, part of the collection at Petit Palais, Paris
The copyrights for these artworks have been waived as much as possible under the Creative Commons Zero license. That means that when you visit Paris Musées' collection portal, you can download a high-resolution image of an artwork with a guide on how to share and use it freely.
Paris Musées has been digitizing their collections since 2016; they currently have over 300,000 works available to view online. Not all of them are copyright-free, but they're organized into different themes, like "Paris during the Revolution" or "Portraits." You can even take a virtual tour of Victor Hugo's home and see the kinds of illustrations that went into copies of his famous play Les Misérables.
There's also an app available, to make your access to the pieces all the handier. The Second Canvas app (for Android and iOS) lets you drag, pinch, and zoom in on all this art in the palm of your hand.
Personally, I'm very partial to La femme en blue by Pierre Léopold Albert Marquet. I've seen this face exactly after making a bad joke:
"La femme en blue" by Pierre Léopold Albert Marquet (1875), oil on canvas, part of the collection at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
When you find your favorite piece of art from the gallery, let us know in the comments!